It’s hard for to believe that it was fifteen years ago that I had a lunch interview with Ronald K. Brown, discussing the twentieth anniversary of his Brooklyn-based troupe, EVIDENCE. Brown is now celebrating the company’s thirty-fifth anniversary with a special virtual evening at the Joyce, presented live from the empty theater over the institution’s online portal, JoyceStream. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Brown has been an integral part of the community since the beginning, giving back in numerous ways, strengthening that engagement during these difficult times. “For thirty-five years, the mission of EVIDENCE has been to promote understanding of the human experience in the African Diaspora through dance, music, history, and tradition to remind us of our individual and collective responsibility and liberation,” the company explains on its website. “The fact that art and social justice share a common foundation continues to push us forward in spite of the continuing turmoil of a global pandemic and nationwide protests against police brutality. Now more than ever we need each other and it is beneficial for us to find ways to call one another and see each other virtually, whenever we can. Social distance does not mean social disconnection. EVIDENCE continues to do the work that says: We know what’s right in our heart and we need to keep that front and center.”
In conjunction with the Joyce Theater Foundation, Northrop, DANCECleveland, and Cuyahoga Community College, EVIDENCE will present an evening of greatest hits, which will stream live from the Joyce stage on February 18 at 8:00 and be available on demand through March 4 at midnight. The program includes an excerpt from Grace, originally choreographed for Alvin Ailey in 1999, an exhilarating, rapturous work, filled with an innate, infectious spirituality, with music by Duke Ellington, Roy Davis Jr., and Fela Anikulapo Kuti, that celebrated its own twentieth anniversary at the Center for the Art of Performance UCLA this past November; 2003’s For You, a solo tribute to the late American Dance Festival codirector Stephanie Reinhart, set to a song by Donny Hathaway; 2016’s She Is Here, a solo for women, honoring teachers and mothers; the “Palo y Machete” introductory multimedia solo from 2007’s One Shot: Rhapsody in Black & White, inspired by the legacy of Pittsburgh photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris; the powerful “March” excerpt from 1995’s Lessons, set to the words of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (“All I’m saying is simply this: that all life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Long as there is extreme poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich even if he has a billion dollars.”); and 2019’s Mercy, an emotional and moving work about justice and compassion set to Meshell Ndegeocello’s version of Oumou Sangare’s “Shirk.” The evening is dedicated to Brown’s longtime booking agent, Pam Green, who is retiring after more than twenty years with the company. In addition, Brown is holding monthly virtual community classes on March 6, April 3, and May 8 at noon; registration is $15 per class.
Opgenomen in Zuiderstrandtheater, Den Haag
February 15-17, €15,00, 2:00 (streaming begins 1:15)
Following its terrific livestreamed production of Yoann Bourgeois’s I wonder where the dreams I don’t remember go, performed in an empty Opgenomen in Zuiderstrandtheater in its home in Den Haag, Nederlands Dans Theater is back with the two-part program “Shadow’s Whispers,” taking place February 15-17 at 2:00 EST.
London-based Israeli choreographer and composer Hofesh Shechter, who previously created Clowns and Vladimir for NDT, returns with the world premiere of From England with Love, for a team of ten dancers, along with Imre van Opstal and Marne van Opstal’s brand-new Baby don’t hurt me; the pair previously made The Grey for NDT 2 and Take Root for NDT 1.
Tickets are about $18 at the current exchange rate. The seventy-five-minute program will be performed live three times, then be gone, so catch it while you can. And be sure to check in early, as NDT will be streaming special behind-the-scenes goodies, including a live Q&A, starting forty-five minutes before showtime each day.
Premieres Sunday, February 14, $125-$325, 8:00
For fifteen years, Brooklyn-based baroque burlesque troupe Company XIV has been dazzling audiences with sexy dance, music, and acrobatics in dramatic, fabulous costumes, re-creating fairy tales and other stories (Cinderella, Snow White, Queen of Hearts, Seven Sins) with an unabashed joy. During the presentation, the cast members make their way through the crowd, interacting with blissful guests who are sitting on lush couches, classy chairs, and intimate booths, eating and drinking as the performers spin from the ceiling, swirl on poles, reinterpret familiar standards, and dance in glittery, revealing outfits. It’s more of a happening than a mere show. So what to do during a pandemic lockdown, when Company XIV is unable to welcome audiences to its fashionable home on Troutman Ave. in Bushwick?
Founder and artistic director Austin McCormick has moved things online with XIValentine, a virtual holiday extravaganza premiering February 14 at 8:00 and available on demand for thirty days. Joining in on the raunchy reverie are aerialist, pole dancer, and soprano Marcy Richardson, aerialist, musician, and dancer Nolan McKew, powerhouse singer Storm Marrero, magician Matthew Holtzclaw, dancer and acrobat Nicholas Katen, actor and singer Brandon Looney, juggler Sam Urdang, dancer and choreographer Nicole von Arx, singer and specialty performer Syrena, and dancers Lilin, Scott Schneider, and Melissa Anderson, along with an appearance by canine cutie Macaron McCormick. The scenic design and costumes are by the amazing Zane Pihlström, who has never met a swath of red velvet and sequins he couldn’t turn into something fabulous.
At its in-person productions, Company XIV offers different levels of ticketing; the more you pay, the more you get, including greater interaction with the cast and better food and drink. The troupe is attempting to recapture that feeling by offering four ways to experience the fifty-minute XIValentine. The thirty-day streaming pass is $125; the Be Mine package comes with chocolate truffles, The Male Nude or 1000 Pin-Up Girls book, and a canvas tote for $160; the Champagne Package features glasses, candles, bar soap, a bath bomb, and a quilted tote for $195; and the Lust Package consists of a rabbit mask, a gold riding crop, black nipple covers, a black beeswax corset candle, passionfruit CBD gummies, a chocolate fondue set, and both a quilted and canvas tote, for $325. Did we point out that things can get pretty kinky with Company XIV, both on- and offstage? In addition, if you live in New York City, you can get Champagne and cocktails delivered to your building. It’s always an expensive night out with Company XIV, and now it’s an expensive night in, but there’s nothing else like it.
If it’s all a bit much, you can go for the virtual edition of the seasonal favorite Nutcracker Rouge, where a $50 ticket provides you with a twenty-four-hour streaming pass to access eight acts (performed by Richardson, Lilin & LEXXE, Troy Lingelbach, Katen & McKew, Demi Remick, Christine Flores, Làszlò Major & Looney, and Jourdan Epstein, Pretty Lamé & Jacoby Pruitt), while $75 extends the pass to fourteen days and adds two weeks of bespoke cocktail lessons.
THE NOURISH PROJECT
January 28 - February 7, free, 7:30
New York City’s WP (formerly Women’s Project) Theater seeks to soothe and feed your soul with The Nourish Project, an interactive virtual presentation continuing through February 7. Conceived and directed by associate artistic director Rebecca Martínez, who was part of the team that took us on an audio tour through the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine community in Sanctuary and helmed one of the microplays in the sensational Here We Are series, The Nourish Project is a multidisciplinary production featuring dance, music, storytelling, poetry, food, and more from a collective of BIPOC creators. Admission is free, but there are three levels of suggested donations if you can afford it, from $10 to $100; when you register, you have to select an element — water, earth, fire, or air — that will determine which breakout room you go to about halfway through the show.
The seventy-minute experience includes songs by Edna Vazquez, opening and closing words written by Jaisey Bates, a cooking demonstration and song from Joaquin Lopez, poems by Latrelle Bright and Camryn Bruno, element hostings by Natalie Benally, Nikiko Masumoto, Jono Eiland, and Bright, dance by Brittany Grier, Megan J. Minturn, and Joya Powell, and other contributions from Siobhan Juanita Brown, Sage Chanell, Madeline Sayet, Dr. Michelle Tom, and Meghan “Sigvanna” Topkok. Along the way, you will be asked intimate questions in the chat, and you are encouraged to turn your camera on at several points to share a few objects visually. You will also hear such lines as “I, the spirit in constant motion, wafting across the planet ever present, holding everything that ever was” and “We are storied bodies, made of stars.” The Nourish Project is earnest, New Agey, reverential, and crunchy, with flourishes of organic spirituality and ASMR, but if that’s your thing, give it a shot. These days, you gotta find comfort and community wherever you can.
Who: Sara Mearns, Andrea Miller
What: Happy hour discussion with cocktail
Where: Gallim Dance Zoom and Facebook Live
When: Thursday, January 28, free with RSVP, 6:00
Why: New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns had already been a revelation, performing the role of the Swan Queen in Swan Lake, starring in numerous Balanchine ballets, and appearing in works by Justin Peck, Kyle Abraham, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, and many others. But she has reached a whole new level during the pandemic, participating in a wide range of virtual projects that has displayed the breadth of her skill and dedication. In May, she was one of thirty-two dancers to perform Le Cygne (The Swan) variation for Swans for Relief, in June she collaborated with choreographer and husband Joshua Bergasse, songwriter Zoe Sarnak, and actress Margo Seibert on the Works & Process commission Storm, in July she and Nina Ananiashvili explored the dual role of Odette-Odile in Swan Lake for New York City Center’s Studio 5: Live @ Home series, in September she was mesmerizing in Lee Mingwei and Bill T. Jones’s durational Our Labyrinth at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in October she danced in Peck’s Thank You, New York with Christopher Grant, Georgina Pazcoguin, and Taylor Stanley for the New York City Ballet New Works Festival, in November she paired with David Hallberg in Wheeldon’s The Two of Us for Fall for Dance, and in December she was one of seven dancers re-creating Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness solo onstage at the Joyce, in addition to multiple interviews and talkbacks (for example, the new Works & Process docuseries Isolation to Creation) and posting about taking dance classes online.
If you’re out of breath reading all of that, imagine how Mearns feels. You can find out just how she feels when she meets virtually with GALLIM founder and artistic director Andrea Miller, a Guggenheim Fellow and the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for a live happy hour discussion on January 28 at 6:00 on Zoom and Facebook Live; Mearns has chosen a sunset splash as her cocktail of choice, consisting of three parts San Pellegrino blood orange and one part Ketel One vodka over ice.
“When we really didn’t know what this pandemic was going to be, times got really, really, really rough. And then, around late March, the entire ecosystem just completely collapsed,” Works & Process general manager Duke Dang says in The Way Forward, the film that kicks off the docuseries Isolation to Creation, which premieres on WNET’s All Arts channel on January 27 at 8:00. The half-hour film follows the creative process of a group of artists who found their previously commissioned works postponed so they had to adapt to the shutdown of indoor venues, in this case the 273-seat Peter B. Lewis Theater under the Guggenheim rotunda, where Works & Process has been hosting sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes looks at dance, theater, opera, and music productions since 1984. The organization quickly transitioned to the new digital world, presenting a wide range of daring and beautiful virtual pieces, more than six dozen so far, all under ten minutes and premiering Sunday and Monday nights, filmed outdoors or from wherever the artists are sheltering in place.
In The Way Forward, Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie, Archie Burnett, Omari Wiles and Kya Azeen of Les Ballet Afrik, Joshua Bergasse, Sara Mearns, Chris Celiz, José Cruzata, Jamar Roberts, Dr. Wendy Ziecheck, and others discuss the metamorphosis to virtual productions, including Covid-19 testing, forming quarantine bubbles in the Hudson Valley (at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, Mount Tremper Arts, and Petronio Residency Center), and collaborating while socially distancing. “It’s a complete launch into the unknown for us, and Duke especially just grabbed it and ran,” W&P producer Caroline Cronson explains. The series, directed by Nic Petry of Dancing Camera, continues February 3, 10, and 17 as the artists get ready for showtime, preparing their works in such styles as Afrik, ballet, ballroom, break, flex, Krump, modern, tap, and vogue. W&P has been more than a breath of fresh air during the coronavirus crisis, streaming exhilarating short pieces that remind us of the power of and intrinsic need for art and all that it brings us, particularly when we’re stuck in our homes, and Isolation to Creation enhances that experience in a big way, holding us over until we can once again return to the Peter B. Lewis Theater and be together in the same space.
CAFÉ La MaMa LIVE: La MaMa MOVES! ONLINE
January 19-20, 26-27, $5-$25 (pay what you can)
The annual La MaMa Moves! dance festival has moved online this year, presenting works by four choreographers over four livestreamed programs January 19-20 and 26-27, each showing two of the quarantine-created pieces, followed by a Q&A. Curated by Nicky Paraiso for Café La MaMa Live, the festival features puppeteer Kevin Augustine and Lone Wolf Tribe’s Body Concert, a minimalist exploration of life, death, and nature across a series of vignettes set to a score by Mark Bruckner and inspired by Butoh, with life-size puppets and no text; Kari Hoaas’s Heat — the distant episodes, four dance haikus (“Pond,” “Fall,” “Branch,” “Leaves”) about time, space, and isolation based on her 2015 Be Like Water, which was scheduled to run at La MaMa in May 2020; Tamar Rogoff’s The Yamanakas at Home, a collaboration with Mei Yamanaka about an older couple living in Japan who confront an intruder; and Anabella Lenzu’s The night that you stopped acting (La noche que dejaste de actuar), which Lenzu describes as a “one-woman show which confronts the absurdity and irony of life while being an artist and a spectator in today’s world. My work reflects my experience as a Latina/European artist living in New York and comes from a deep examination of my motivations as a woman, mother, and immigrant.” La MaMa’s digital platform also currently includes Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver’s Last Gasp WFH through January 21 and “In Process with Bobbi Jene Smith” through January 24, with “Downtown Variety: Brazil Edition” scheduled for January 22 and “Reflections of Native Voices” January 25 - February 7.